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Technology and I are barely on speaking terms. That may seem odd for a blogger, but it’s true, and my camcorder bit my plans in the butt this morning, just to remind me of it.

I went to Arnold to videotape Joe Biden, and five minutes into his speech, the camcorder screen went blank. So you don’t get video of him, and that’s a shame because, God love him (as he would say), he was great. And the greatness wasn’t that he said anything we haven’t heard–I know Obama and he want a three month moratorium on home foreclosures; I know they want judges to have the authority to help homeowners renegotiate loans; I know they think McCain’s proposed tax on health care benefits is scandalous.

I like Biden’s sense of humor. He enjoyed describing how McCain, when he’s at a rally with Palin, points at her and says, dramatically, “maverick.” Then she points at him and says, “maverick.” But Biden quotes Senator Bob Casey, who observed that “You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve been for the last eight years is a sidekick.”

But Biden’s sense of humor is not what made him worth hearing either. The best word to describe what made him worth hearing is one that’s a little out of fashion because it could sound cornball, and that’s “heartfelt”.  

A couple of dozen workers from the Chrysler plant that just closed in Fenton were sitting behind him, wearing red t-shirts. He talked at some length about the 1700 jobs just lost there, about how the last minivan made at Fenton rolled off the line two days early. Even workers who were facing the loss of their jobs took enough pride in their work, up to the end, to get the work done ahead of schedule.

Biden recounted how hard it was when the GM plant closed in Delaware. On the last day the plant was open, he stood outside the plant as the workers came off their shift. People advised him against being there, because they knew those workers would be angry and that they would be likely to take it out on Biden. And that did happen. There were lots of expletives deleted aimed at him. But 85 percent of those who cussed when they saw him, he said, came back and said, “Thank you for being here.”

His empathy for those Chrysler workers was heartfelt.

And he concluded the speech by saying that the divisiveness that has characterized Republican rule has to end. Even those who have viciously attacked Obama and those who’ve been less than honest are going to see that we want to unite the people of this country. Biden’s voice got louder, fuller, as he said that. This was the part I wish I had on videotape. “Barack Obama has steel in his spine, and he will appeal to America’s better angels,” he boomed. He finished by saying that all America is patriotic, and there’s nothing beyond our capacity if we unite. He believes that. It was heartfelt.

photo courtsy of washingtonpost.com